He stands up, tall and foreboding, and then he begins to walk purposefully towards the podium.
All eyes are fixed on him.
There is something about him that arrests attention, a strange magnetic charisma that has a most powerful allure.
It is not the unreal aura around him, nor the unveiled sense of confidence and sureness.
It is something deep, something divine that brooks no argument.
He mounts the steps to the podium and stands looking at the pugnacious face of Tutu Dompreh.
The old man glares at him with sudden disdain and anger.
And who the hell are you? And what are you doing here? Who invited you? And who gave you the audacity to come up here?
The stranger smiles at him.
I take no authority from any mortal, and certainly not from foolish mortals as yourself.
The insult carries through the microphone, and Tutu Dompreh jumps to his feet, his face almost exploding with the depths of his fury.
How dare you! You stupid infidel! Do you think you can come into my house and insult me? You fool! Who invited this bastard anyway? Is he one of your stupid friends, Kobby?
Kwabena shakes his head numbly as he stares with unease at this stranger who seems to exude such danger.
No, Daddy. I don’t know him.
He was sitting with Akua, Grandpa. I think she brought him here.
Of course she would, the witch! I’ll deal with her myself! She’s moving out of that damn house! Guards, come and take this bastard away! Akua, wait for me, you’re dead!!
Four security men holding batons emerge quickly.
They climb the podium, and two approach the stranger on each side.
SECURITY GUARD 1
Sir, please come with me. We don’t want to hurt you.
The stranger doesn’t even look at them.
His eyes are fixed on a fuming Tutu.
Hurt me! Hurt me? Believe me, my dear fellow, the likes of you aren’t empowered to hurt me! On the contrary, I’ll advise you to keep your distance if you want to avoid getting hurt!
Get this madman out of my sight! TAKE HIM AWAY NOW!!
The guard on the left touches the stranger.
Immediately he is hurled back with a hidden force, as if he has touched an electrical feed.
He is thrown violently into the air, and he smashes into one of the metallic poles of the tent, falling down hard.
The security man on the right tries to stop himself when he sees what has happened to his friend, but he is too late.
He touches the stranger’s right arm, and then he screams shrilly as he is spun round and round violently, and then he slams down on top of one of the tables below the podium, and remains still.
The other two security guards are trembling, and with fear on their faces they slowly take steps back away from the stranger and get down from the podium.
Akua, sitting far away from the podium, suddenly giggles as she sees the look of sheer terror on Tutu’s face.
It gives her such great satisfaction.
An air of fear has gripped everybody present.
They don’t know what is happening.
The stranger turns his cold eyes on Kwabena now, and a look of sheer fury crosses his face, making him so menacing that Kwabena swallows with sudden apprehension.
And you. Such a nerveless man you’ve become, always living in the shadow of your bully of a father! You let him call your wife a whore! Fool! Is your wife a slut? Has she ever committed an abortion? HAS SHE?
His last words were uttered with cold, terrifying harshness, causing Kwabena to flinch as he looks miserably at the stranger.
No, no, sir!
Don’t tell me, moron! Tell your father! Tell the spectators here!!
Akua came to me as a virgin, Daddy.
Because there is absolute silence, his words are picked by the microphone and amplified by the giant speakers, and these humble words make eyes turn to Akua again.
Eyes that had held disdain, and disrespect, now look at her in awe.
The stranger leans forward and picks up a piece of chicken wing.
He pops it into his mouth and chews appreciatively.
Mmm. Sweet. Chicken has always been my weakness. And now, listen to this, old man Tutu Dompreh, you fool. That boy Baaba is holding is not your grandchild.
Even Akua gasps with horror.
Tutu Dompreh’s face becomes sallow and sags.
He shakes his head as if warding off an invisible blow, and his face looks tortured.
What are you talking about? That’s Kobby’s son!
The stranger picks up another chicken, a thigh this time, and waves it at the petrified Tutu.
Uh-uh! Nope! Your son’s fertility has been locked by God. He can’t father a child until God releases him. It is not Akua who can’t give birth. It is your son! There’s a curse on him. Let’s say… a divine curse! Many years ago a woman with the spirit of the Lord on her prayed that God should make Kwabena infertile, and God listened, and your Kobby has been a useless man since then. Don’t you dare call Akua a useless woman!
Kwabena jumps to his feet, his face ashen, his body trembling, his eyes wild.
NO! OH, NO! NO! HE’S MY SON! THEY’RE COMING TO LIVE WITH ME! DON’T YOU DARE COME AND CAUSE CONFUSION WHOEVER YOU ARE! HE’S MY OWN SON!
The stranger looks at him with pity, and then he turns to Baaba and raises his eyebrows.
I’ll ask you, once, woman. If you lie, you will be shocked at the consequences. Tell this fool who the real father of your son is!
Baaba licks her lips as she stands up, holding the boy.
Her eyes are wild as they dart in all angles, seeking for a way out.
Babs! Speak! Please speak! Am I not the father of your son?
(banging the table with his fist)
Baaba! Tell me Kobby is the father of Junior!
Yes, yes! Kwabena, darling, you’re the father of Junior! Don’t pay attention to this evil magician Akua has brought! She wants to disgrace us because she’s a desperate witch! You’re my only love, the father of Junior!
The silence is absolute.
The stranger leans forward and dips the chicken thigh into a delicious sauce, and pops it into his mouth.
He licks his fingers and smiles.
Well, fair enough then!
Without turning he extends his right hand behind him and points a finger.
A little handsome man who is sitting with two other ladies in the front row suddenly gets to his feet, his hands clutching his neck, gasping for air, his tongue suddenly lolling out!
His name is ATOBAM KANKAN.
He is Kwabena Dompreh’s childhood friend, and had been his best man at the wedding.
They are very good friends!
He grabs his neck with both hands and jerk with pain, and then suddenly he falls down, jerking horribly as if he is dying!
Baaba screams and suddenly comes down the podium.
She gives her son to another guest and kneels besides Atobam, and then she takes him in her arms.
She is screaming and crying.
Tutu and Kwabena look on with horror and the grandfather of all shocks!
ATO, ATO, ATO!!!
She shakes him, but Ato is dying, his eyes popping out!
Baaba gets to her feet and rushes back to the podium, and she falls down on all fours in front of the stranger, weeping inconsolably.
She reaches out to hold the stranger’s legs.
Believe me, woman, you don’t want to touch me!
Baaba withdraws her hands and holds them together in front of her in utter supplication.
Alright, okay, PLEASE SIR! DON’T KILL ATOBAM! PLEASE I LOVE HIM! YES, YES, ATOBAM KANKAM IS THE FATHER OF MY SON! WHEN I GOT PREGNANT HE HAD NO MONEY, AND HE TOLD ME TO SEDUCE KWABENA AND LIE THAT HE IS THE FATHER. I DID IT, AND WE RECEIVED A LOT OF MONEY FROM TUTU DOMPREH! ATO WANTED ME TO MOVE INTO KWABENA’S HOUSE THEN WE WILL CON HIM OUT OF MILLIONS OF CEDIS AND THEN ELOPE TO THE UNITED STATES! IT HAS ALL BEEN A PLAN, THAT’S ALL, TO GET AS MUCH MONEY AS WE CAN FROM KWABENA’S FATHER!! I’VE TOLD THE TRUTH, PLEASE, PLEASE, RELEASE ATOBAM!
The stranger looks down at her and smiles sadly.
Kwabena is shaking as he leans forward with his hands laced under his chin, his face a picture of amplified horror.
And the truth, of course, shall always, always set you free!
And suddenly Atobam stops struggling on the ground.
He stands up groggily.
Baaba screams as she runs from the podium and embraces Atobam.
They hold each other tightly, showering endearments on each other without caring about the scene they are causing.
Baaba takes her son from the guest and together she and Atobam walks towards the entrance.
Oh, no! Dear Lord, no, no, no!!
Kwabena jumps to his feet.
Baaba! Jesus, Baaba! How could you do this to me? No, please, please… don’t kill my soul like this!
Baaba turns an agonized face to Kwabena as tears course down her cheeks.
I’m terribly sorry, Kobby! I deceived you! I lied to you for your money! Junior is not your son, I beg of you! He’s Ato’s son! Please find it in your heart to forgive us!
She turns and quickly flees from the premises.
A shattered Kwabena sits down slowly, his eyes seeking Akua, filled with sudden pain, shame and remorse!
He is trembling so badly that he fears he might have a heart attack.
Tutu Dompreh is trembling as he slowly sinks back in his seat.
The stranger goes round the table and sits down on the seat Baaba has vacated.
The stranger looks down at the great number of people sitting down who are now looking at him.
He leans forward and looks at Tutu Dompreh.
Pass me the microphone, please.
Tutu’s jaw is set pugnaciously, but fear lurks in the depths of his eyes.
He has seen things he cannot explain, and it is scaring him.
He does not know what the stranger has up his sleeve, and not knowing is sending terror through Tutu’s heart, and he is trying to control that fear.
The microphone is passed across, until it comes to Kwabena, and he hands it to the stranger.
The bearded man then looks at the crowd again, and begins to speak in a pleasant, deep bass voice.
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